DEAR RACHEL

Dear Rachel,

My phone is full of lists. The start of letters I want to write, books I want to read. To do lists and work schedules from two years ago. Scenes for stories I’ve finished and stories I never started. Singular statements: I’m forgetful. I’m traveling soon. I am not innovative. Some of my notes read like gibberish and I forget the context and I’ll spend ten minutes on my morning commute trying to decipher what “Ghosts–keep the chicken, then, work backwards” means.

I have a decent memory but I forget things. I’ve never been good at jokes; I always forget the punchline. I’m not even really great at telling stories; I get distracted with things I’ve forgotten and go off on tangents and backstories until I’ve backtracked all the way to the beginning of time.

So my phone is full of lists. Dates to remember. Ideas. Other people’s allergies and pizza orders. I have three separate notes that are lists of names–not people I know, just names that I like? This ends in a question because I can only assume this is the reason. As for why I have three separate lists and not one long list, I’m still unsure. Probably because I keep starting new lists, forgetting I already have one going.

Last week, I wanted to write this letter about forgetting things but I couldn’t figure out who to address it to so I wrote something different. Sometimes that’s the way these letters work–I pick a topic before a person–though other times it’s the reverse. It wasn’t until I’d finished last week’s letter that I remembered it was your birthday. This should have been obvious since I’d spent the afternoon at your birthday party, but I forgot it was your birthday and I don’t know how many times I have to say that I’m forgetful to prove my point.

I forget other things too. Sometimes, I forget that you shouldn’t ask people direct, invasive questions because that’s rude. Sometimes, I forget that I’m supposed to care about things like 401ks and the economy (are these the things people care about? I’m not sure) and sometimes I forget that I’m not supposed to care about other things like global warming (this is a joke, we should all care about global warming and also bees) and what other people think.

I forget to say no; I can be talked into just about anything. You remind me. Thank God you remind me. I wish I kept a list of all the times you’ve had to tell me no. No, Madelyne, you shouldn’t slap people, even if you’re drinking whiskey. No, Madelyne, you shouldn’t get another tattoo just because you wrote a check for your car insurance today and the responsibility of adulthood has you feeling reactionary. No, Madelyne, you can’t tell people you’re pregnant just to get out of drinking. You are my no.

You are also my yes. Yes, Madelyne, it’s okay to feel like a crazy mess. Yes, Madelyne, you can do this. Yes, Madelyne, you deserve this. Yes, Madelyne, I’ll pick you up from the airport. (Okay, so I sort of bribed you into doing that last one, but I don’t know if ever said thank you so I figured I’d just throw it in as another example of you being a good friend who says yes even when I’m a stressed out travel monster who refuses to go to sleep.)

Look, we’ve been through a lot. I’m not going to list it all, not because I’ve forgotten, but because our mothers read these letters and no need to cause undue worry (just normal city gal stuff, ma!). I’m realizing now that I should’ve painted something more patriotic since we met on the Fourth of July (but haven’t spent a Fourth of July together since?) and I’d say that I forgot but this letter is actually a drinking game where you drink every time I say ‘forget’ and I think the people are drunk enough.

Thank you for keeping me alive, both physically and emotionally and mentally. You’re my very fave egg, Mallison.

All my love,

Paddlin’ Madelyne

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